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» March 15, 2007 «
The value of U.S. wine exports jumped last year, according to statistics released yesterday (Wednesday) by the Wine Institute. Its report says wineries sold $876 million worth of wine to foreign customers, up 30 percent from the previous year. About 95 percent of those exports came from California. The report notes growing sales to markets including Canada, China and the European Union.
North Coast vineyards are starting to bloom. Some Sonoma County farmers say their vines have achieved bud break, when the vines send out leaves and buds that will become grapes. The Sonoma Grape Growers Commission says vineyards closer to the coast often bloom first, because they benefit from the moderation of temperature the ocean provides. As vines bloom, farmers will be concerned about frost for the next couple months.
People who lost their jobs because of California's severe mid-January freeze will benefit from President Bush's declaration of a major disaster in 12 counties. The action makes additional unemployment assistance and food aid available. A California Farm Bureau spokeswoman welcomed the declaration and said Congress will soon take up a disaster bill. The bill would provide further assistance to farmers and workers affected by the freeze and by last summer's heat wave.
It's tree-planting season in California timber country. Some timber producers along the North Coast have finished their tree planting, while Sierra farmers are preparing to plant as soon as the snow melts. Timber prices are low now, as housing construction has slowed dramatically. That particularly affects mills in the Sierra, because most wood from that region goes to home construction. Because of the low prices there isn't a rush to begin harvest, which usually starts in April.Top